Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Pure Poetry


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain:
then a man will stand stock still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across

a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside the radio's prayer-
Rockall, Malin, Dogger, Finisterre

By Carol Ann Duffy

Our new poet laurette, Carol Ann Duffy, is ( whisper it...) not my favourite poet of all time. However I am seriously impressed by this hauntingly evocative poem. I decided to post another poem on the topic of faith as I got a positive response from some people to the Hopkins. I love the quiet, reflective tone of this poem, the glimpses of those moments when "meaning breaks through" into our everyday lives and we don't quite know how or why. Duffy describes herself as a "benevolent agnostic" and this poem does capture an almost secular need for the meaning and reassurance of prayer - the woman calling a child's name that recalls the heartbreak of a lost child, the beat of a train evoking a man's youth, the familiar rhythm of the shipping forecast like a sudden litany and that basic human sense of something beyond that is experienced by the faithful and faithless alike.

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